Worst. City. Ever.
ADAM GARTRELL SMH July 19, 2010
Dear Medan. I hate you.
I visited you recently and found you the most unpleasant, charmless and thoroughly depressing city I've ever encountered. And I've visited plenty of s---holes in my time.
Now, when it comes to big Indonesian cities I have pretty low expectations.
I live in Jakarta, the biggest of them all, so I know what I'm in for: traffic, pollution, heat, noise, chaos, the stench of human waste.
And you, Medan - Indonesia's third biggest city - you provided all those things. In great abundance.
In fact, even though your population, at three million, is a quarter that of Jakarta's, I reckon you're worse on just about every count.
Quite an achievement.
But Medan, you're awful not just because of your many failings but because you appear to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
You're slim pickin's for hotels, you don't seem to boast a single, decent restaurant and from what I've heard, you've got no real nightlife.
Your airport is a Boschian nightmare, your roads a mess, your buses an embarrassment and your taxis ... well, if I ever find one I'll let you know.
And ever heard of trees?
Okay, so you have a big mosque but it's also the closest thing you've got to a tourist attraction. And you have a few shopping malls but what city doesn't?
I understand now why you consistently feature on people's "Worst. City. Ever." lists.
You're at the very top of mine.
Okay, I admit, there's a personal element to this. See, I got robbed in one of your hotels.
It wasn't a very nice hotel. It promotes itself as a four star hotel when in actual fact it's closer to a two. But that's fine. I don't need luxury and it cost less than $100 a night.
Except, in the end, it actually cost a couple of grand. Because while I was out one night scouring the streets for a decent meal - in vain, of course - someone broke into my room and stole a giant wad of company cash from my suitcase.
Why did I have a giant wad of cash, you ask? Well, because Indonesia is a mostly cash economy, so I'm forced to travel with plenty of it. But why didn't I put it in the safe? Well, because the hotel didn't provide one.
And when I brought the robbery to the hotel's attention the staff were predictably - and perhaps deliberately - unhelpful.
Security staff at first said they could give me a keycard lock report, so I could see if anyone else entered my room. But then - for reasons not properly explained - they suddenly couldn't.
But that was okay, they said. They could show me the CCTV footage outside my room instead.
Oh no, wait, sorry! We don't actually know the password to review the CCTV!
Can you say "inside job"?
Needless to say I moved to a different hotel for my final night. I woke up the next morning in blood-stained sheets. Mozzies never take any interest in me but your Medan mozzies made quite a frenzied exception.
I didn't get malaria. But I did get spectacularly, violently sick about a week later from an intestinal parasite, which I'm certain I picked up from you, Medan. I just know it.
I've never been so happy to board a plane as I was the one that whisked me away from you, Medan. And I never want to see you again.
“Indonesian Muslims have been praying in the wrong direction for months, facing Somalia by mistake.”